The Vikings: scary warriors, peaceful farmers, superb sailors, talented artists. See below for books, resources, a great outdoor chess game, a rampageous God of Thunder, and some helpful hints about dragon training.


 imgres By Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire, Leif the Lucky (Beautiful Feet Books, 1994) is a gorgeously illustrated biography of Leif Erickson for ages 7-10.
 imgres-1 Andrew Langley’s 40-page You Wouldn’t Want to Be A Viking Explorer! (Franklin Watts, 2013) uses off-beat humor and cartoon-ish illustrations to cover a lot of information on the Vikings and their colonization of Greenland. For ages 7-11.
 imgres-2 Susan Margeson’s Viking (Dorling Kindersley, 2009) in the Eyewitness series is arranged in illustrated double-page spreads, each devoted to a different Viking topic, among them “A Viking warship,” “A Viking fort,” “Gods and legends,” “Viking burials,” and “Runes and picture stones.” Wonderful photographs of artifacts. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-3 Elizabeth Janeway’s The Vikings (Beautiful Feet Books, 2010) is a lightly fictionalized account of the life and voyages of Leif Ericson. Historically accurate, but reads like an exciting novel. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-4 By John Haywood, Viking: The Norse Warrior’s (Unofficial) Manual (Thames & Hudson, 2013) is informational, funny, and written in the second person, which makes for a snappy read. A rundown of Viking society, for example, ends with the slave or thrall, the social bottom of the heap: “Tough luck. This is not a good place to start. You’ll be a slave if your mother was a slave. Or maybe you didn’t run fast enough when Vikings came calling in your neighborhood, and you were captured and sold.”  For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-5 James Graham-Campbell’s  200+-page The Viking World (Frances Lincoln, 2013) is a comprehensive account of the Vikings, who dominated (and terrorized) Europe from the ninth to the eleventh century. Illustrated with maps and beautiful photographs. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-6 Nancy Marie Brown’s The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman (Mariner Books, 2008) is the fascinating tale of the tenth-century Gudrid, who probably crossed the Atlantic Ocean eight times. The book combines new archaeological discoveries (Gudrid’s longhouse has been excavated in Iceland) with historical information and accounts from medieval Icelandic sagas. For teenagers and adults.
 images By Bryan Sykes, Saxons, Vikings, and Celts (W.W. Norton and Company, 2007) is a genetic history of the Great Britain, covering everything from Cheddar Man and King Arthur to the science of blood transfusions. Find out who has Viking ancestors. For teenagers and adults.
 images-1 The History Channel’s The Vikings is a multi-season series with a lot of action, a large cast of characters, and an up-close-and-personal look at the Vikings.
 imgres-8 Robert Ferguson’s The Vikings (Penguin Books, 2010), the companion book to the series, is a well-researched history, filled with interesting (and many gruesome) details. For teenagers and adults.
 images-4 The Viking Answer Lady website has a wealth of helpful information, variously categorized under General Info, Daily Life, Technology, Agriculture, Warfare, Art & Literature, Myth & Religion, and Settlements. Find out about old Norse names, Viking games, drinking customs, tattoos, berserkers, and much more.
kremlin-22 Viking Heritage has a long list of Viking archaeological discoveries, with annotated photos of artifacts.
 images-3 The Viking Rune is a blog devoted to Vikings. Various categories include Norse Names, Norse Runes, Viking Archaeology, Viking Gods, and Scandinavia.
 images-5 The Jorvik Viking Centre in York, England – on the site of an ancient Viking city – is now a wonderful living-history museum. A dream field trip for Viking lovers. Check it out.
 images-6 10 Things You May Not Know About the Vikings is an interesting short list. Visitors learn that Vikings bleached their hair, skied for fun, and never wore horned helmets.
 imgres-9 From The Great Courses, The Vikings is a 36-lecture series, available for download or on DVDs or CDs. Titles of the 30-minute lectures, by professor Kenneth Harl of Tulane University, include “The Vikings in Medieval History,” “The Norse Gods,” “Legendary Kings and Heroes,” and “A Revolution in Shipbuilding.” Intended for a high-school-level or adult audience, but accessible for younger viewers.
 imgres-10 Generally the Viking age in Europe is said to have begun with the raid on Lindisfarne Abbey on June 8, AD 793 – but recent evidence shows that the first raid may have been earlier yet. Read about it in The First Vikings from Archaeology magazine.
 imgres-11 From PBS, The Viking Deception is the story of the Vinland map – either a priceless document showing early Viking voyages or a very clever 20th-century forgery.
 images-7 See this illustrated account of How Vikings Navigated the World.
 imgres-12 Legend claims that the Vikings used special crystal to navigate under cloudy skies. Read about the discovery of a Viking-style sunstone here.


 imgres-13 In #15 in Mary Pope Osborne’s popular Magic Treehouse series, Viking Ships at Sunrise (Random House, 2010), Jack and Annie are magically transported to a monastery in Ireland, just as Viking raiders arrive. For ages 6-9.
From Scholastic, Viking Ships at Sunrise Lesson Plan has a number of activities to accompany the book, among them making and labeling a “Viking ship” on the floor (with electrical tape), learning to write your name in runes, researching Viking facts, and figuring out how long it takes to copy a page from a favorite book, medieval-monk-style.
 imgres-14 In Jon Scieszka’s Viking It and Liking It (Puffin, 2004), one of the giggle-provoking Time Warp Trio series, Joe, Fred, and Sam are propelled back to the time of the Vikings, where they become embroiled in a conflict between Leif Eriksson and his cousin, Grim-Snake-in-the-Grass. There’s an annoying bard suggestively named Bullshik, which – according to reviewer comments – many parents and teachers find objectionable. For ages 7-9.
Viking It and Liking It is a lesson plan to accompany the book. Activities include making a commercial for some aspect of Viking life and inventing a game of Viking Jeopardy.
 imgres-15 Clyde Robert Bulla’s Viking Adventure (Avyx, 2000) is the story of young Sigurd, who sets off on a voyage to “Wineland” in North America. The voyage turns out to be far more dangerous than expected – there’s a murder and a shipwreck – with only Sigurd left alive at the end to tell the tale. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-16 In Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon (Little, Brown, 2010), Hiccup, a Viking warrior-in-training, and his fellow classmates must each capture a dragon and train it. Hiccup’s dragon – rude, lazy, and scrawny, but lovable – is named Toothless. When traditional Viking dragon-training techniques (yelling) fail, Hiccup decides to simply talk to Toothless – with successful results, as the pair of unlikely heroes prove when the clan is faced with a sea monster. The first of a series for ages 7-11.
images-8 From DreamWorks, How to Train Your Dragon is the animated film version of the book. Rated PG.
 imgres-17 In Terry Jones’s The Saga of Erik the Viking (Pavilion, 2013), Erik and his crew set sail on The Golden Dragon to find “the land where the sun goes at night.” En route, they have exciting and heroic adventures with the Old Man of the Sea, monsters, enchanters, giants, trolls, and a dragon. A great read for ages 8-12.
 imgres-18 In Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants (HarperCollins, 2009), twelve-year-old Odd, who has a crippled leg and a hateful stepfather, sets off for a cabin in the wilderness. Along the way he meets a bear, a fox, and an eagle – who prove to be gods in disguise, transformed into animals by a Frost Giant. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-19 In Matthew Kirby’s Icefall (Scholastic, 2013), set in ancient Norway, a Viking king has sent his three children – Harald, his young son and heir, Asa, the beautiful oldest daughter, and Solveig, the plain middle child – to a distant mountain fortress for protection while the kingdom is at war. It soon becomes obvious that there is a traitor in their midst, and Solveig, now training to become a bard, must discover who it is. A terrific and suspenseful story for ages 8-12.
 imgres-20 Allison Lassieur’s Life as a Viking (Capstone Press, 2010) is an interactive choose-your-own-adventure in which readers decide what to raid, battle, or invade. Historical information paired with a lot of slaughter. Be warned. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-21 In Nancy Farmer’s The Sea of Trolls (Atheneum Books, 2006), a Viking-based fantasy, young Jack (who has been learning magic from the neighborhood Bard) and his little sister Lucy are captured by Northmen and taken to the home of Olaf One-Brow. Jack – soon in trouble with the half-troll Queen Frith – must save his sister by setting off on a quest to find Mimir’s well in Jotunheim, a fearful realm of trolls, dragons, and monsters. There are two sequels: The Land of the Silver Apples and The Islands of the Blessed. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-23 Jonathan Stroud’s Heroes of the Valley (Disney-Hyperion, 2010) is a fantasy set in the world of the Norse epics. The main character is fifteen-year-old Halli Sveinsson, youngest and least handsome son of the House of Svein, who sets off to avenge his uncle’s death and learns the truth about his heroic ancestors and their battle with the evil Trows. A grand adventure for ages 10 and up.
 images-9 Ellis Peters’s Brother Cadfael series is a delightful collection of mysteries set in the 12th century, starring the herbalist/monk Brother Cadfael, an ex-Crusader with a sense of humor. In Summer of the Danes (Sphere, 1994), Cadfael is dispatched to Wales, where civil war threatens. There he is captured by Viking mercenaries. For ages 13 and up.
 imgres-24 Frans G. Bengtsson’s The Long Ships (New York Review Books Classics, 2010) is the story of 10th-century Viking Red Orm, an exciting saga of kings, clans, battles, and blood feuds. Wonderful historical fiction for teenagers and adults.
 images-10 The Historical Novels website has an annotated list of dozens of historical novels featuring Vikings. For older readers.
 imgres-25 In the film The Vikings (1958), Einar (Kirk Douglas) and Eric (Tony Curtis) are half-brothers, though neither realizes the other’s identity. (Not surprising, since Einar is a chieftain’s son and a warrior, while Eric is a slave.) This is a gorgeous movie: there are battles, longships, a beautiful captured princess (Janet Leigh), a wolf pit, and a flaming funeral. No rating on the website, but I’d call it a PG-13. It’s riddled with historical inaccuracies, but is such fun to watch that nobody cares.


 imgres-26 By Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire, D’Aulaire’s Norse Myths (New York Review Children’s Collection, 2005) is a wonderful collection of classic stories about both the great and the lesser-known Norse gods, goddesses, and hangers-on. The illustrations are spectacular. For ages 5-12.
 imgres-27 By archaeologist Graeme Davis, Thor: The Viking God of Thunder (Osprey Publishing, 2013) is an excellent collection of Norse myths and legends about the Viking god who battles trolls and giants with Mjolnir, his mighty hammer, and who rides to war in a chariot pulled by goats. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-29 Padraic Colum’s The Children of Odin (Aladdin, 2004) divides the classical Norse myths into four parts: “The Dwellers in Asgard,” “Odin the Wanderer,” “The Witch’s Heart,” and “The Sword of the Volsungs and the Twilight of the Gods.” For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-30 Nancy Marie Brown’s Song of the Vikings (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) is the story of chieftain and storyteller Snorri Sturluson, the source of Viking lore and legends for all of Western literature. Richard Wagner and J.R.R. Tolkien owe him. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-28 Renowned artist Walter Simonson’s graphic novel The Mighty Thor (Marvel, 2013), starring the superhero that he made famous, combines a great story with terrific pictures. Many equally wonderful sequels. For ages 9 and up.
 images-11 In the film Thor: The God of Thunder (2011), Thor – after some unauthorized meddling with the Frost Giants – is punished by being tossed out of Asgard and sent to Earth. There he falls in love with scientist Jane Foster and saves his new home from the Destroyer, sent by Loki to kill Thor. He also saves Asgard from invading Frost Giants. (Walter Simonson has a short, but impressive, appearance in the final banquet scene). Rated PG-13.
Also see the sequel, Thor: The Dark World (2013).
For the picky, check out 8 Things Marvel Got Wrong About Thor and Norse Mythology.
 images-12 Norse Mythology covers Viking myths, the Viking creation story, Yggdrasil the World Tree, Ragnarok, and the Norse gods, goddesses, and other supernatural beings.


 imgres-31 In Cindy Neuschwander’s Sir Cumference and the Viking’s Map (Charlesbridge, 2012), cousins Per and Radius find a mysterious treasure map belonging to Viking warrior Xaxon Yellowbearyd. To decode it, they need to understand coordinate graphing. One of the Math Adventures series starring a host of math-y medieval characters for ages 8-12.
 images-13 Viking Math is a short collection of Viking-themed word problems, variously involving scaling monastery walls, burning English huts, indulging in blood feuds, and fleeing, at different speeds, in longships.
 imgres-32 Viking Navigation is an exercise in which students determine latitude using the same method as the Vikings. You’ll need two yardsticks, a protractor, and an ability to find the North Star.
 imgres-33 An Investigation into Viking Mathematics is an essay on the mathematical peculiarities of Viking chain mail.
 imgres-34 Vikings Brainstorm is a puzzle board game in which players attempt to navigate their longships through a storm at sea. An exercise in strategy and creative thinking for ages 6 and up.


 929 From Crayola, Westward With the Vikings has instructions for making a paper-and-craft-stick Viking dragon boat.
 vicking-shipsm Make this great 3-D Viking Ship from a cardboard milk carton.
 mpaperviking DLTK’s Crafts for Kids has a Viking Paper Craft: print and color the templates to assemble a Viking paper doll. Wearing a horned helmet.
 IMG_4979 See these instructions for making a terrific Viking Shield. (You’ll need duct tape and a big piece of corrugated cardboard.)
 imgres-37 A.G. Smith’s Story of the Vikings (Dover Publications, 1988) is an informational coloring book covering all aspects of Viking life. Pair this one with a nice box of colored pencils. For ages 8-12.
 roundbrooches From Time Traveller Kids, Make a Viking Brooch has instructions for making great cloak pins from painted clay.
From the Instructables, Making a Viking Cloak-Pin is a serious project involving metal and a brazing rod.
 imgres-35 The Scandinavian game of Kubb is also known as “Viking chess.” The goal: to throw sticks at your opponent’s pieces in an attempt to knock them over. Find out how to make a set of your own here.
Commercial version of Kubb/Viking chess – played outdoors on the lawn – are available here.
 imgres-36 The Lewis chessmen are thought to have been made in Scandinavia in the 12th century.
Medieval Foes With Whimsy is an article from the New York Times about the Lewis chessmen.
Also see The Isle of Lewis Chess Set on You Tube, which has great views of the pieces.
 imgres At Write Your Name in Runes, you can do just that, plus learn the runic alphabet.
From Omniglot, Runic Alphabet has information, history, and several versions of the runic alphabet (known as futhark from its first six letters).


 images-13 Aimed at primary-school kids, the BBC’s Vikings has questions and answers, activities, fun facts, and photo and video galleries.
 images-5 From the Core Knowledge website, The Vikings: Marauders or Explorers? is a detailed seven-part lesson plan targeted at third-graders but adaptable for a range of ages. Included are activities, lists of key terms and vocabulary words, learning goals, and resource lists.
 images-15 From Learning Through History, the Vikings Mini Unit Study has background information, a primary-source account of a Viking raid, a virtual tour of a Viking farmhouse, instructions for writing your name in runes and making a Viking costume, a Viking Quest game, and more.
diasporamap The companion website to NOVA’s The Vikings has a virtual tour of a medieval Viking village, interesting information on Viking history, a clickable map showing the extent of Viking travels, and a project in which kids make a tree-ring timeline.


 imgres-38 Music of the Viking Age is a short illustrated history.
 full_vocal_01 From the BBC’s Learning School Radio, Viking Saga Songs is an animated collection of stories and songs based on Norse mythology. Sing along with “Loki the Joker.”
 cd_wardruna Viking Music selections were inspired by the Vikings and are based on traditional Scandinavian folk tunes. Listen to examples at the website.
 imgres-39 Recreating the Jorvik Panpipes describes how a Viking instrument found at the Jorvik site was resurrected.
 imgres-40 From Odin’s Gift, Historical & Classical Poetry has examples of ancient Viking poems and sagas.
 imgres-41 From Rudyard Kipling’s wonderful Puck of Pook’s Hill, the Harp Song of the Dane Women is a poem about the Vikings.
 images-16 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Musician’s Tale is from his longer work, The Saga of King Olaf. (A favorite of Theodore Roosevelt.)
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